Somewhere along our journey from childhood to adulthood, we picked up this ludicrous belief that taking care of our physical appearance — getting our nails done, doing our hair, or picking up extra skin care products — is a luxury most of us just don’t need. Being an adult (or trying to be an adult) often means being overwhelmed with work or family obligations. You will probably have a packed calendar of social events, a number of tasks you’ve been putting off, and past-due bills that just keep piling up. And in an attempt to accommodate your seemingly endless to-do list and cover all necessary expenses, hair and skin care may not always make it into your budget.
When we’re stressed, self care is usually the first thing to go.
We work through lunch and end up missing a meal. We skip the gym. We stay awake all night. We neglect a much-needed hair cut. And these things will only serve to increase our stress levels.
Sure, self care sounds like something meant only for those with a certain amount of privilege, but it’s that exact way of thinking that could be responsible for why we’re so stressed, unhappy, and more highly medicated than ever before.
According to the University of Buffalo Self Care Center, when you don’t practice self care, you can suffer a high number of stress-related health problems, work burnout, and a creeping feeling of unhappiness or imbalance in your life. Which means self care should not just be something you get around to when you have a little extra money — it should be a priority and factored into your monthly budget to ensure your life runs smoothly.
Self care is not an indulgence. Making the effort to prioritize it in your budget is actually completely practical.
By focusing on self care in whatever form best fits into your lifestyle and needs, you’ll avoid an overload burnout. Self care reduces the negative effects of stress: A little bit of stress can ultimately serve a purpose, but after a while, it’ll just break down your mind and body. Taking care of yourself means keeping your stress from taking over so you can function at full capacity. Self care helps you refocus. Often, when we find ourselves stuck dealing with a particular task, it can be helpful to walk away from it and come back later. Taking breaks is the epitome of self care, and studies show it helps you perform better.
In this case, using one of those recommended breaks to go get your hair done or see your favorite dermatologist could be exactly what you need.
Speaking of derms, taking care of your skin is another major #key. The skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. It protects us from germs, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold. (As if you didn’t already know what skin does?)
Beyond all of the science stuff, our skin is first thing people see as we go through the world. As teens, we spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror battling evil pimples with exfoliation and moisture, but as adults, a lot of us are less diligent. We’re all guilty of it. How many times have you fallen asleep with your make up on this year?
While it’s tricky to find an ideal skin care routine alone, it’s simpler than most people think — especially when you make seeing your dermatologist a priority. Together, the two of you can figure out your skin type and needs, and find products that actually work for you, instead of blindly grabbing the latest celebrity trending beauty products. This not only saves you money in the long run but leaves you with better skin.
Another reason you should be focusing on your skin is the risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer can affect anyone at any age. If you enjoy being out in the sunlight, it’s important to be smart about skin protection throughout the year to reduce your risk.
As for hair care, the same “look good, feel good” idea applies! Plus, there’s a reason why we get the urge to get a hair cut after dealing with major breakups or other issues in life.
According to Joseph, a hairdresser at Salon V in New York, “Women don’t often come right out and say it, but hairdressers can often sense that there’s something more than a haircut happening here.” Joseph went on to reference a Lenny Kravitz quote:
If you don’t believe in energy in that way, hairstylist Eloise Cheung previously told HG, “Dramatic hair changes are a way of shedding the past and moving on. We’re on a mission to create a new and better version of ourselves and a fast and easy way to do this is by cutting our hair and/or changing our hair color.”
Listen, #YOLO! You only get one body, and it’s your responsibility to take care of it. If that means cutting back on your 6 cups of Starbucks so you can make an appointment to improve your hair or skin, then make it happen.